A cardinal principle of U.S. policy since the collapse of the Soviet
Union has been to foster the independence of the new states
established on former Soviet territory. In Central Europe, U.S.
policy goes further: In order to protect the sovereignty of Poland,
Hungary, and the Czech Republic, the United States has championed the
eastward expansion of NATO, in effect transforming what had been a
Russian glacis against the West into a European glacis against
Russia. Despite strong Russian objections, the U.S. government is
pressing ahead with this.
Many debate whether such a course is either necessary or wise. Nearly
lost amid these controversies, however, are the growing problems of
sovereignty in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Consistent with its
principles, the United States has made clear its support for the
independence of the five Central Asian states (Kazakhstan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan) and the three
Caucasus republics (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia). But whereas in
Central Europe Washington barely acknowledges Russian sensibilities,
in Central Asia and the Caucasus it indulges them to excess. As a
result, U.S. deeds fall short of its rhetorical support for the new
countries of the region. Particularly in the crucial energy sector,
U.S. actions are having the effect of undermining these countries'